First, it's important to understand the difference between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in breads, cereals, fruits, etc.
You can generally categorize carbohydrates into two categories - simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates enter your blood stream quicker therefore are ready to use right away.
Complex carbohydrates won't necessarily go through your system as quickly and the energy can be stored for using later.
Protein provides your body material for building blood
cells, hormones, body tissue, and other important substances. Protein is found in meats, eggs, milk, and many vegetables and starches.
Protein is less often used for energy compared to carbohydrates and fats.
Fat provides energy, stores energy, and is used to insulate the body. Consuming dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of vitamins, nutrients, and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables.
Fat is used for energy a great deal during aerobic exercise and used much less for energy during anaerobic exercise.
Fats are also important for your brain and nervous system.
Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are sources of energy essential to your health.
When thinking about sports nutrition, you should also consider (1) appropriate calorie level and (2) appropriate nutrient levels.
Calorie levels refer to the amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats you should consume.
On food products you buy from the
grocery store, you'll notice most nutrition labels measure the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat by grams.
One gram of carbohydrates is about 4 kilocalories.
One gram of protein is about 4 kilocalories.
One gram of fat is about 9 kilocalories.
It's important to think about how many calories you should be consuming during your volleyball tournaments. Then also, it's important to consider how much (total calories of each and ratio) of each nutrients you should be consuming.
Generally, you can get a pretty good idea of how many calories you should be consuming by factoring in your age, height, weight, and activity level.
The amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you should consume each day can be calculated by percentage of total calories or total grams.
For example, one athlete might follow a 50/20/30 split. These numbers are percentages of total calories consumed. This would be 50% carbohydrates,
25% protein, and 25% fat.
(I'm going to use the term calorie instead of kilocalorie because that's what most people think the numbers on nutrition labels are, even though they are really kilocalories.)
A 30 year old male volleyball player that is 6 feet tall and weighs 170 lbs might shoot for a 2800 calorie a day diet. With a 50/20/30 split that's 1400 calories from carbohydrates, 560 from protein and 840 from fat. That would be 350 grams carbohydrates, 140 grams protein, and 93 grams of fat.
With all that said, it's important to mention there is no "one size fits all" sports nutrition program. Every athlete is different. Body size, age, sex, genetics, and then also training conditions, length of training sessions, frequency of training, and intensity of training are all factors to be considered for good sports nutrition.
Obviously, the best diet for an athlete is one that's individualized.